ZAMBOANGA - Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari has expressed support for the presidential candidacy of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, according to a top MNLF official.
Habib Mudjahab Hashim, chairman of the MNLF's Islamic Command Council, said Misuari had consulted with his followers and other MNLF commanders in Sulu before finally deciding to support Duterte in the upcoming presidential race.
Hashim said aside from being a fellow Mindanaoan, Misuari also believes in Duterte's sincerity to support the 1996 peace agreement the MNLF inked with Philippine government. The MNLF has been pushing for the peace deal's full implementation.
Hashim said the MNLF also agrees with Duterte's proposal to change the system of government to federalism. The group believes this will will give poor cities and provinces in Mindanao equal opportunity to prosper.
Under the proposed federal system of government, several federal states will be established across the country, and given autonomy to create and generate their own income and also manage their own economy.
Hashim said this form of government will provide an alternative solution to the conflict in Mindanao.
Misuari's group, however, will not campaign for Duterte's running mate, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano. Instead, they will support vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
It was during the regime of Marcos' father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, that the Tripoli agreement was signed between the MNLF and the government.
The agreement created an autonomous region composed of 13 provinces, including Basilan, Davao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur.
2013 ZAMBOANGA SIEGE
Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar, for her part, appealed to Zamboangeños not to support candidates who will be endorsed by Misuari.
She cited the 2013 Zamboanga siege masterminded by the fugitive MNLF leader where hundreds of his armed followers conducted coordinated attacks in the city.
Hundreds of lives were lost and thousands of families were left homeless after the siege which lasted for almost a month.
Hashim said they respect the opinion of Climaco, but pointed out that in the end, it will be the voting public who will decide who to support and vote for in the upcoming elections.